Search This Blog

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

SWTOR missing the mark on Morality and Factions

            Recently there has been much discussion in the blogosphere about a couple of subjects and how they relate to SWTOR. Tobold, Ferrel at EpicSlant, Syp over at Bio break and some others have been discussing the use and implementation of the morality system in SWTOR. While a post at MMO melting Pot and one by Ferrel at Epic Slant also chimed in on the popular system of factions in games. A while back I also wrote a post on wanting to play a Bounty Hunter in SWTOR and the main reasons I most likely won’t be playing one, Faction and Morality.

            All this talk about Morality and Factions got me thinking about the games design and how BioWare has truly missed a great opportunity to give players exactly what they have wanted in a game. They have the perfect system in place with a game designed around a good vs. evil morality scale, story driven quests and Home world planets for each class, to create the ideal environment for a player choosing which side they ultimately side with. To really get into the missed opportunity we must dive into each class and show examples of what could have been.

Bounty Hunter and Smugglers

Both of these classes for all intensive purposes are the perfect candidates for creating a neutral class as each is usually driven by their quest for wealth and desire for independence. Now I will concede that in Star Wars lore Bounty Hunters have usually sided with the Empire (Sith) side and Smugglers have usually sided with the Alliance (Jedi), but both classes have shown signs of working for themselves first and foremost and going where the money is.

Boba Fett is arguably the most well known and beloved bounty hunter of all time and although he often sided with the empire, he was never truly “evil” in his choices, nor where other bounty hunters of Mandalore heritage. Often they only cared about one thing and that was payment. Their actions were more business like than devious and one can easily see a bounty hunter making light side choices.

Smugglers are a shady and underhanded class that make their living transporting illegal goods and doing whatever they must for money. The most popular smuggler of all time, Han Solo is an iconic hero of the Alliance, but he also worked with the Hutts at one time. Smugglers could just as easily be evil in their actions as Good and also have a great chance of siding with either side.

These two classes offer the perfect chance for BioWare to create a truly neutral faction. The home world starting areas of both could be geared towards “taking care of business” with the choices player’s make along the way ultimately deciding where they go next. Play with a dark sided slant and you go Empire, Light sided goes Alliance. This generates the perfect opportunity for truly impactful decision making.

Jedi and Sith

            While both these character classes are closer to one side or the other, both have shown the ability to switch sides in Star Wars lore. Anakin Skywalker chose the dark side and then went back to the light as Darth Vader. Other characters like Jacen Solo and Lumiya went Dark after being light, While some like Mara Jade went Dark to Light. The point here is it is very possible for force users to be greatly effected by the choices they make. However ultimately their choices decide where they fall as either Jedi or Sith. I see no reason why this game should be any different.

            Player’s choices while playing should ultimately decide where they fall and would make for some interesting game play. Imagine being a Jedi but making choices which are of a dark nature, earning you dark side points. Soon enough your friends discover who you really are and you are forced to flee your Jedi roots and strike out to find the Sith. Some will say that this is ultimately a penalty and that it may remove players from playing with their friends, but I am suggesting that this is an initial game feature that decides your fate. Players would have direct control from the start of where they will go. The bottom line is to give players choices that matter.

Republic Trooper and Empire Agent

            These two classes are probably the least affected by their choices as each is directly employed by their respective sides. Troopers are Republic, while Agents are Sith and as far as I am concerned the way these two classes are implemented is fine as is. However there is no reason not to make the choices a player makes affect these classes in a more profound manner. This system could allow even these two classes to have monumental changes to a player’s game. Former Trooper turned agent anyone? I see no reason for this not being possible.

It’s all about Meaningful Choices

Ultimately is appears to be to late to change the way SWTOR is begin designed and it saddens me just a little that this game could have become so much more. Immersion in this game could have been on an Epic scale as players would really feel like their choices shaped the world around them. This game was primed for building a starting zone where everyone got to choose where and how they ended up.

With a galaxy as big as Star Wars the developers had all the room they needed to model the questing/ story system to direct players where they needed to go. Starting areas could have been neutral with players then going to either a Sith or Alliance leveling areas. As the game stands now I believe the morality system is nothing more than a novelty idea as I will still be Sith or Republic no matter what choices I make.


No comments: